Andre Iguodala's return set to make life even more difficult for Cleveland Cavaliers in NBA Finals

Jay Asser 01:08 07/06/2018
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Andre Iguodala has missed the past six games with a bruised left knee.

The Cleveland Cavaliers are back to enjoying the comforts of home, but their uphill climb against the Golden State Warriors is about to get steeper with Andre Iguodala’s return.

Though Iguodala is officially listed as a game-time decision for Game 3 at Quicken Loans Arena, Warriors coach Steve Kerr was forthcoming on Wednesday to say there is a “good chance” the forward will play.

After suffering a bruised left knee in Game 3 of the Western Conference Finals, Iguodala has been sidelined for the past six games.

While he may not play his usual minutes immediately as Kerr eases him back, Iguodala will immediately give a boost to Golden State on both sides of the ball.

Defensively, he gives the Warriors another body to throw on LeBron James, whether it’s full-time or sparingly. Iguodala has a history of at least bothering James, which includes him picking up Finals MVP honours in 2015 for “limiting” LeBron to 35.8 points per game on 39.8 per cent shooting.

Him being back in the lineup also allows Golden State to be more comfortable switching everything when they roll out the ‘Hamptons 5’.

So far in the series, the Warriors have mostly trotted out either Kevon Looney, JaVale McGee or Jordan Bell alongside their All-Star foursome, with varying degrees of success – the Looney lineup has an offensive rating of 114.1 and a defensive rating of 108.9 in 23 minutes; the McGee lineup has an offensive rating of 136.4 and a defensive rating of 122.8 in 19 minutes; and the Bell lineup has an offensive rating of 138.9 and a defensive rating of 138.6 in 10 minutes.

When Iguodala has been healthy in these playoffs, the Hamptons 5 have an offensive rating of 123.9 and a defensive rating of 101.1 in 110 minutes. They’ve not collectively faced LeBron yet but that lineup is a step above any other combination of players Golden State can throw on the court.

Offensively, Iguodala adds more spacing, even if Cleveland will live with him launching from the perimeter. Looney, McGee and Bell have served as capable roll men after setting screens, but Iguodala will allow the Warriors to play five-out, affording Stephen Curry and Kevin Durant more room to work with off the dribble.

But even more than the spacing boost he brings, Iguodala’s playmaking skills have been severely missed. Draymond Green does well as the trigger man at the top of the key, but Iguodala is a secondary point guard who allows Curry and Durant to operate more without the ball, which is when Golden State are at their deadliest.

Just what LeBron and the Cavaliers needed – another weapon for the Warriors to wield.

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